Camper van was potential death trap

28 June 2016

Cheshire West and Chester's Trading Standards Service is advising campervan owners to be sure their vehicle is safe to use.

This follows the sentencing of Paul Finney, 39, who pleaded guilty to several charges brought by the Council relating to the supply of an unsafe camper van.

At the time of the offence Mr Finney was trading as Mid Cheshire Conversions and operating from units in Woodford Park Industrial Estate, Winsford. The business has since ceased trading. Mr Finney has lived at multiple addresses in the Winsford and Crewe area.

The conversion was so badly carried out that the base vehicle was unsafe to use on the road and the habitation area unsafe to live in.

The faults found included improperly- installed gas appliances posing a carbon monoxide risk and improperly-wired 12 volt leisure electrics posing a risk of fire.

Paul Finney was sentenced to a total of just over three years in jail on Friday 24 June. The sentence comprises 32 months for each of 16 fraud offences brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (to be served concurrently) and an additional six months for a breach of safety legislation, to be served concurrently with terms of imprisonment for a further four safety breaches.

During sentencing the judge referred to the high impact Mr Finney's actions had had on the 16 fraud victims whose dreams had been shattered. The judge also referred to the flagrant disregard to product safety regulations that had been shown in supplying a totally unsafe vehicle.

The Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Karen Shore said: "There were serious defects with this campervan conversion that could have resulted in dreadful consequences.

"We would urge anyone who has concerns about the safety of their campervan to get it checked by a properly qualified expert to ensure that it is both safe on the road and safe to live in." When booking a safety check campervan owners need to be sure that they know the extent of the checks that their chosen expert can carry out. For example, it may necessary to consult different experts to look at the habitation area and the base vehicle. The general roadworthiness of the base vehicle can be assessed during an MOT.

Consumers who are unsure how to locate an expert to check the safety of the living area may wish to consider the Approved Workshop Scheme which is a joint enterprise between the NCC (National Caravan Council), The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club.

Advice about consumer rights is available from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506 or alternatively at www.gov.uk/consumer-protection-rights.

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